Upset pick, two-deep horizontal approach in Pacific Classic

Profile Picture: James Scully

August 18th, 2018

The $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) features a probable odds-on favorite in Accelerate. The top-ranked older horse in the weekly NTRA Poll, the five-year-old employed stalk-and-pounce tactics to post impressive wins in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) and Santa Anita Handicap (G1) at the 1 1/4-mile distance and it’s easy to envision a similar trip today.

He’s eligible to overpower seven rivals and will be included on my multi-race tickets, but Accelerate returns to Del Mar for the first time since a dull ninth at 7-2 odds in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). He peaked last season in the San Diego H. (G2), registering a 111 BRIS Speed rating for the convincing win, and proceeded to drop his next two local attempts including a well-beaten third in the Pacific Classic. Accelerate netted a 111 Speed figure crushing foes last time in the Gold Cup.

I am tabbing The Lieutenant for the upset.

A five-year-old son of Street Sense, The Lieutenant wasn’t able to string together starts earlier in a layoff-ridden career but is finally healthy and progressing significantly for Mike McCarthy. One can see where he started to finally discover his best form in late March and the improvement he’s displayed in three outings since, including his first stakes victory in the All American (G3) two back and a clear second most recently in the Suburban (G2) to Diversify, arguably the top older horse on the East Coast by a wide margin.

I like the ride John Velazquez provided last time, sitting patiently through the far turn as The Lieutenant passed half the field on his own accord to reach second by upper stretch, and the Hall of Famer wrapped up before the wire when it was apparent the half-brother to Triple Crown winner Justify couldn’t catch the winner and wasn’t going to be caught for second.

The Lieutenant didn’t lose any ground through the stretch to Diversify and registered a 107 BRIS Speed rating. He’s finally fit and moving forward, recording a trio five-furlong works at Del Mar over a 14-day period (July 29-August 12), and has proven very honest so far with four wins from 13 career starts including his last appearance at Del Mar, an entry-level allowance victory in early September.

I will play The Lieutenant to win and key him in any vertical exotics.

Here are some thoughts on the Late Pick 5 sequence:

Race 7

After recording a second from two starts Friday, Tyler Gaffalione is poised to make an impact in his first full day riding at Del Mar with several legitimate contenders. Peter Miller tabs him for #5 Captain Scotty, who should prove best here if ready to go off the freshening. The four-year-old son of Quality Road earned excellent Speed numbers opening his career with a pair of romping wins (95-100) and Captain Scotty will make his first start since a fourth at short odds against a salty field in the March 10 Triple Bend (G1). I will single Captain Scotty on one ticket.

#2 Adena Dream and #3 Mr Vargas are capable back-ups if the top choice comes back short.

Race 8, Del Mar Oaks (G1)

#5 Fatale Bere showed talent in her first two U.S. starts last fall and looked like the class of the Southern Californian three-year-old turf filly division when opening the year with a convincing tally in the Providencia (G3) in April.  Her saddle slipped and the rider had to pull her up when heavily favored in the Honeymoon (G2) next out and Fatale Bere shipped for the Belmont Oaks (G1) last time, offering a menacing move into contention before winding up a decent sixth. She appears to be training forwardly for Leonard Powell and draws well in post 5 with a returning Kent Desormeaux. Fatale Bere rates a slight edge.

#4 Ollie’s Candy and #6 Paved will also be used.

Race 9

#10 Game Winner is the one to beat for Bob Baffert, who likes to unveil top prospects on big racing days. The workout reports are positive and the Candy Ride colt counts Fleet Indian, a multiple Grade 1 winner with plenty of speed, as his second maternal dam. He’s a single on one Pick 5 ticket

#7 Istanbul and #8 Dueling are exiting respectable second-place efforts against talented prospects. Both are candidates to graduate with further improvement.

Race 11

I will use four in the finale, a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claimer on turf: #2 Pioneer Lad, #3 Morse Code, #4 Royal Albert Hall and #12 Avalanche.

Pick 5 Tickets (races 7-11)

My strategy involves multiple 50-cent Pick 5 tickets with different singles.

Ticket 1: 5 with 4,5,6 with 7,8,10 with 1,5 with 2,3,4,12 ($36)

Ticket 2: 2,3,5 with 4,5,6 with 10 with 1,5 with 2,3,4,12 ($36)

Total = $72

Good luck on Pacific Classic Day!